DALLAS — Microsoft Corp. said Monday that its US$2 billion R&D investment in programs for its developer community is a sign that the potential of IT is alive and well.

But Paul Flessner, the Microsoft Corp. senior vice-president

who opened the software giant’s Tech-Ed conference, conceded that the industry on a whole is facing a crisis of complexity.

“Seventy per cent of any given IT budget is consumed by the ongoing cost of operations,” he said, noting that the announcements made today are Microsoft’s way of helping decrease these costs and promoting simplicity.This includes the release Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Release Candidate 1 and Microsoft’s Windows Storage Server 2003 as part of the Windows Server System.

“We’re working hard to make sure that the storage aspect of tech centres will be well cared for with the Windows Storage Server,” Flessner said. The server features Distributed File System (DFS), server clustering and supports the iSCSI initiator.

Microsoft has also released the beta version for the first phase of “Jupiter,” the core of which is BizTalk Server 2004. Jupiter is the company’s effort to integrate its current e-business servers to create a more unified and simplified environment. The second phase will focus on integrated content management based on its current Content Management Server, Commerce Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. BizTalk Server 2004 will be available by the end of 2003 and Jupiter as a whole in 2005.

Also announced was Microsoft’s commitment to what Flessner referred to as its “ecosystem” of developers and partners.

“The first time someone asked me about the potential of IT I thought they were kidding,” Flessner said to the group of over 10,000 developers and IT professionals. “In my mind, the potential of IT is unlimited and will always be unlimited. IT has the potential, and the potential is you.

“A big part of this is investing in you,” Flessner said. “Our community is a big thing we’ve really invested in and we’re stepping it up.”

This includes the creation of Webcasts and training programs for Microsoft’s IT community, new courses, clinics and workshops and an open campus program in which Microsoft itself demonstrates how it runs its IT shop.

Flessner also shared Microsoft’s product roadmap which includes several releases within the 2003 and 2004 calendar years. SQL Server Yukon’s release has been bumped back in the second half of 2004 from the first half because Flessner said they “just want to get it right.” 2005 will see the release of Windows Longhorn and Visual Studio Orcas, while 2006 will have the release of the Exchange Server Kodiak.

He ended his keynote by imploring the audience to buy into Web services, whether it’s through Microsoft products or not.

“Please get connected with Web Services. It’s what we need to do as an industry — it’s how we can enliven our ecosystem,” Flessner said. “It’s us working together that keeps IT relevant and lets us realize the full potential of our investments.”

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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